On Thursday, the Americans issued a statement expanding the current sanctions list by 130 items. The latest package of restrictions will apply to both technology companies and banks supporting Russian industry. This means a very precise blow to the financing of the Arctic LNG 2 project, which the Kremlin was counting on.
US sanctions are dangerous. A decisive blow on liquefied natural gas, a project on which Russia has great expectations. Moscow still maintains the high standards of declared production of liquefied gas, assuming a level of 100 million tons per year by 2030 – as Dr. Simon Kardash, expert of the European Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFR), mentions in an interview with Al-Mal.pl.
Losing most of the European gas market is a big problem for Russia. After radical reductions in pipeline flows, the country was forced to develop trade in liquefied natural gas. Although Russian plans to develop this branch before the war were very ambitious, the invasion of Ukraine significantly reduced the country’s capabilities.
The paradox turns out to be that despite the technological sanctions imposed by Brussels, which have further limited the possibility of developing LNG projects in Russia, Moscow avoided imposing direct restrictions on the transfer of Russian liquefied gas to the European Union.
The good news for Russia when it comes to gas and LNG is that Europe has not decided to impose sanctions on the import of LNG. Signals were sent, but it didn’t happen in the end. Unfortunately, many countries are very interested in using this gas. Dr. Simon Kardache explains that the Spanish and French have long-term contracts. – This translates into good statistics. He adds that as a result, the Russians have become the second supplier of liquefied natural gas to Europe after the United States.
As we reported at the end of August, from the beginning of this year until the end of July, the EU has purchased more than half of Russian LNG. In total, EU member states bought 22 million cubic meters of liquefied gas, compared to 15 million cubic meters in the same period in 2021That is, before the conflict broke out.
– We are talking about a different supplier than Gazprom, which was A direct tool for Moscow in Putin’s political games. Dr. Kardash says that Novatek, although it has ties to the Kremlin, is not viewed that way, and contracts with it have so far been implemented.
The aforementioned new US sanctions package directly targets Novatek’s interests. As Wojciech Jakubik, analyst and editor-in-chief of biznesalert.pl, wrote, they are making transactions related to Arctic LNG 2 impossible.
Szymon Kardaś also draws attention to this. He believes that the recent US sanctions are not a blow to liquefied natural gas trade as much as they are a direct blow to the implementation of projects that increase Russia’s production capacity.
Interestingly, the United States did not attack the Yamal LNG project, from which Europe buys gas, but rather the Arctic LNG 2 project, a project that has not yet been fully launched. Russia assumes that the plant will eventually consist of six lines with a capacity of 6.6 million tons per year, which is a very serious quota, and it is a large plant. Its location is also important because it can supply both Asia and Europe. The Russians are close to completing the first line. The restrictions put a question mark over the future of this project. Lines 2 and 3, which are still under construction, may be in danger – says the European Council for Foreign Affairs expert.
A warning signal to the allies
The United States may also move An attempt to rally the Europeans to take a clear position on the issue of restrictions on Russian liquefied natural gas.
As we wrote on money.pl, in March, EU ministers supported solutions aimed at giving member states effective tools to block LNG supplies from Russia. This is without imposing new sanctions. The lack of top-down decisions means that Spain, for example, has become a hub for Russian liquefied gas.
The US sanctions also represent a signal to Europe, especially to countries that are still buying Russian raw materials, of the need to review their policy. The Arctic LNG project itself has become a toxic project. The question is how pro-Western shareholders, such as France’s TotalEnergies, Japan’s Mitsui, and JOGMEC (Japan Mineral and Energy Security Organization – editor’s note) – will behave, says Dr Kardash.
Let us also remember that in March of this year, Italy withdrew its support for the Arctic 2 LNG project. The investment cost of the Russian company Novatek amounts to $21 billion, and half a billion euros from Italian loans., granted by the state investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and the Russian branch of the largest Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo. Italy withheld its share of financing.
Przemyslaw Ciesak, journalist at money.pl
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